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current to the northward of Behring's Strait. Our answer to this is, that there is little or no current in a mill-dam, though its waters may be rushing out with the greatest violence under the flood-gate. The inclination of the shores of Asia and America towards each other forms such a dam, into which currents have been observed to set with extraordinary velocity along the west coast of America, and the eastern shores of Japan and Kamtschatka.* The impenetrable barrier of ice, which stopped the progress of Cook's successors, may be considered as the temporary head and flood-gate of this dam; and, as it was eight.or ten feet above, it could not be less than fifty or sixty feet Jielow, the surface of the sea; but the water was more than a hundred feet deep below this, affording ample space for its escape, which it might do with great velocity, without being in the smallest degree perceptible on the surface. It would be difficult to explain the perpetual egress of a current from the polar basin into the Atlantic, which is a well authenticated fact, without admitting a supply through the only remaining opening into that basin, to answer the demand of this current; those who could suppose the melting of the ice to afford such a supply would betray a total ignorance of the very little influence which an arctic summer exerts on fields of ice, perpetually surrounded, as they are, with a chilly, and mostly with a freezing atmosphere created by themselves. Besides, the southerly current setting into the Atlantic on both sides of Greenland is perpetual, not only when the ice is melting, but also when the sea is freezing. Lieutenant Parry, of the navy, in returning last year from Halifax, met with an island of ice more than a hundred and fifty feet high, and two others of a smaller size, in latitude 44° 81' N. so early as the 2d April. These ice-bergs must have floated out of the polar basin in the middle of winter, unless they stopped by the way It has been suggested, we believe, that the disproportion of the opening into the polar basin through Behring's Strait, and those out of it through Davis's Strait, and between Greenland and Spitzbergen, is fatal to the theory we have assumed; but when we reflect on the vast disproportion that occurs in the breadth of rivers in different parts of their course, and that where widest they are very often found to be deepest, the objection, we think, will not be deemed conclusive, especially if it should be found, as we apprehend it will, that the currents of the ocean, where Iio land intervenes, are entirely superficial. The Gulf-stream between the Bahamas and East Florida is very little wider and perhaps not much deeper than Behring's Strait; and yet the water rushing through this passage is of sufficient force and quantity to put the whole northern Atlantic in motion, and to make its influence to be
* Cook's last voyage.
felt felt in the distant Strait of Gibraltar and on the more distant coast of Africa. It must also be recollected, that several of the largest rivers of Asia, and two or three of North America, discharge a very copious supply of water into the polar basin.
The same circumstance of whales struck with harpoons in the sea of Spitzbergen, or in the Strait of Davis, being found on the north-west coast of America, as far down as Nootka Sound, affords an additional argument for a free communication between the Atlantic and Pacific; unless it should be contended that such wounded whales took the long and circuitous route by Cape Horn. It was a fact of this kind which, at a very early period, led to the. conjecture of a passage from the sea of Japan to the northern Atlantic . Mr. M'Leod mentions the fact, which he got from Grozier, who had it from the ' Recueil des Voyages,' which took it from Hendrick Hamel's 'Unfortunate Voyage of the yacht Sparwer, in the year 1653:' this vessel was wrecked on the island of Quelpaert, and the crew carried to Corea, where they were kept prisoners for more than thirteen years. Hamel says, ' In the sea to the northeast of Korea, they take every year a great number of whales, in some of which are found harpoons and striking-irons of the French and Dutch, who practise the whale-fishery at the extremities of Europe; whence we infer (he adds) that there is surely a passage between Korea and Japan which communicates to the Strait of Waigatz.'
The cause of failure in every attempt, either to make the passage, or to ascertain its impracticability, appears of no difficult explanation. Owing to the great depth at which ice floats in water, it must take the ground at a considerable distance from the shore, where, as we have already observed, it becomes a nucleus for floating patches to form round it; and the summer sun having little power on such enormous masses, they accumulate in magnitude, and spread over a wider surface from year to year; and if large fragments were not frequently torn from them and borne away by the currents, the whole surface of the straits and narrow seas would in process of time be covered with ice. Owing to this circumstance, we find the bays and harbours of Newfoundland,of Nova Scotia, and Cape Breton, the Strait of Belleisle, and the shores of the islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, every year choked up with ice, though all of them are more to the southward, and some of them many degrees to the southward of London. The more northerly straits and islands, which form the passages into Hudson's Bay, are of course never free from mountains and patches of ice; and yet all the navigators, proceeding on discovery, have either entered these straits, and had to struggle against the ice and currents, and tides on the east coast of America, or have kept so close to the
land land on the west coast of Greenland, as to encounter the same obstacles; so that, on the former, the highest point ever reached is the arctic circle, or at most the 67th parallel, which is three or four degrees short of the point A., near which, as we have before stated, the north-eastern extremity of America may be expected to be found.
The mid-channel of Davis's Strait, on the contrary, is known at particular seasons to be free of ice in much higher latitudes. Mr. Graham Muirhead, master of the Larkins above mentioned, after passing the ice and reaching the latitude 75° ?>0' N., the coast of Greenland then in sight to the eastward, stood from hence to the westward, in that parallel, three hundred miles, the sea entirely free, with the exception of here and there a detached ice-berg floating to the southward. At this point he observed a yellow sky, or what is usually termed the land-blink, to the south-west. The position of the ice, however, is constantly changing. The same year the James, of Whitby, meeting with a compact body of ice m latitude 75°, turned back and came home; but the Larkins, as we before stated, persevered and got through, when she proceeded as high as 77°, found plenty of whales, and the sea clear of ice.
Spitzbergen "is usually surrounded with ice; but the sea to the northward is generally so open, that it is a prevailing idea among the whale fishers, that there would be no difficulty of approaching the pole from that quarter. The late Mr. Daines Barrington collected much curious information on this point, and was so well satisfied of the practicability of approaching the pole, that he prevailed on the president and council of the Royal Society to recommend to Lord Sandwich a voyage of discovery towards the north pole; the suggestion was adopted, and the command of the expedition given to Captain Phipps, (afterwards Lord Mulgrave,) who obviously failed by getting entangled in the ice near Spitzbergen. It is this accumulation of ice round the land, rather than the degree of latitude, that causes the extreme cold and tempestuous weather about Spitzbergen and Nova Zcmbla: 'it is not the neernesse of the north pole,' says De Veer, in his preface to Barentz's Three Voyages,' but the ice that cometh in and out from the Tartarian sea that causeth us to feel the greatest cold.' Instead therefore of coming near the land, or endeavouring to pass through narrow straits, it will be prudent to avoid the land, and to keep as much as possible in the open sea, and in or near to the edge of the current, where the sea may be expected to be free. This last year the Neptune, of Aberdeen, before mentioned, reached the latitude of 83° 20', in the sea of Spitzbergen, which is within four hundred miles of the pole, the sea open and clear of ice: Dr. Gregory found the master a clear-headed, cautious seaman, and supplied
with the ordinary instruments for nautical purposes. We have heard of several other whalers who reached beyond 81° north.
The surface of the sea, in fact, is not easily frozen in any latitude; the thermometer of Fahrenheit must be down to 27° before a pellicle of ice can be formed; and it will not form even at zero, unless the weather be calm and the surface unruffled; and then only what, the whalers call pancake ice. We have frequently the mercury in Fahrenheit's thermometer below zero, yet who ever saw the English channel frozen over, or any part of the Atlantic on this, side? It is the narrow seas only, and those without tides or currents, that freeze over. The ice-bergs, or mountains of ice, are generated on the laud, either in valleys, or against steep shores; they are avalanches: and it is a remarkable fact, that all the ice, brought by the south-west current round Spitzbergen, is field-ice; whilst that which comes down Davis's Strait is mountain-ice. It is on this ground that we have marked on the diagram the undefined land, which has been named New Siberia, as the probable source of ice-bergs; and if this be so, the sea, through which these massy mountains float, must be open; and where they can float, a ship will find no difficulty in sailing. If whole fleets bound to and from Archangel annually double the North Cape in the. 72d or 73d parallel, without interruption from ice, why should the polar basin be obstructed in the same or in lower latitudes? Captain Cook was well aware that the ice in Behring's Strait was not permanently fixed, and would probably have succeeded the following year in passing into the basin had his life been spared. It is well known that the Strait of Belleisle is one day so closed up that waggons may pass it, and the next so open, that no ice is to be seen: the same may be the case with Behring's Strait. Lieutenant Kotzebue, it seems, has found no difficulty in passing this strait, nor in entering a deep bay beyond it; to what extent his discoveries may subsequently have proceeded, we have yet to learn. Not a word is mentioned in his report of obstruction from ice, which would appear, indeed, to have also broken up in this eastern quarter, from the multitude of white bears which infested the peninsula of Kamtschatka, at the time when they usually seek, their food on the ice, the resort of seals and sea-horses in the spring. The Russians have for some time been strongly impressed with the idea of an open passage round America; and the Kamtschatka frigate, commanded by Captain Golovnin, who was a prisoner in Japan, has proceeded on the same discovery, at the public expense, which Kotzebue is employed on by the private liberality of Count Romanzoff. It would be somewhat mortifying, if a naval power but of yesterday should complete a discovery in the fliueteentb century, which was so happily commenced by Euglish
men in the sixteenth; and another Vespucius run away with the honours due to a Columbus. There is, however, little to fear on this score. Two expeditions, of two small ships each, are fitting out for northern discoveries and scientific researches; the one, we understand, is to proceed northerly into the polar basin, and to endeavour, by passing close to the pole, to make a direct course to Behring's Strait; the other is to push through Davis's Strait for the north-east coast of America; and, if successful in discovering and doubling the unknown point A., to proceed to the westward, with the view of passing Behring's Strait.
From one or both of these expeditions lively hopes are entertained, that this curious and important problem in geography, which engaged the attention of our early navigators, will be solved; and, if a practicable passage does exist, that it will not much longer remain undiscovered. The character of the several officers who have been appointed, and the men of science who, we understand, are to embark on this grand enterprize, and the means in preparation, afford the strongest presumption, that whatever talent, intrepidity, and perseverance can accomplish will be effected.
Four merchant-vessels have been hired, and rendered as strong as wood and iron can make them. Their names are the Isabella and the Alexander, the Dorothea and the Trent; the first two being intended to proceed up Davis's Strait, under the command of Captain Ross; the other two by the route of the north pole, under Captain Buchan, and all four to make the best of their way to Behring's Strait. The Alexander and the Trent are two brigs, the former commanded by Lieutenant Parry, the latter by Lieutenant Franklyn, with a junior lieutenant to each of the four vessels, and two midshipmen, who have served their time and passed their examinations, one assistant-surgeon, and a purser. To each vessel have also been appointed a master and a mate, well-experienced in the navigation of the Greenland seas and Davis's Strait, who are to act as pilots among the ice. All the men to be employed on this bold and hazardous enterprize are to be volunteers, and both they and the officers are to receive double pay. Every preparation has been made of fresh provisions, wine, spirits, medicine, and warm clothing, in the event of their being obliged to winter in the ice, or on the coast of America.
Captain Ross was long and actively employed in the Baltic, and, having twice wintered there, is well trained to the cold and the ice; he has also been as far to the northward as Cherry, or Bear island in the Greenland seas. Lieutenant Parry, who accompanies him, served for several years on the coast of America, is an excellent navigator, theoretical as well as practical, and has published a valuable treatise, for the use of the young officers in the fleet,